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Collective Cabin Fever Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

March 29, 2020 No Comments

Now that folks are sheltering in place, they’re spending a lot more time online—talking about being sheltered in place.
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Video marketing: The ultimate guide (You’ll only need this)

March 25, 2020 No Comments

Video is not only a content type anymore, but it has also become a culture. Before that, theater movies and TV had driven the culture, and the only thing that has changed over the past few years is the platform.

Culture is what drives the marketing around it, and 83% of marketers believe that video is becoming increasingly important; a clear indication of more brands using them as a part of their marketing strategies. It can be clearly seen how important video has become for every platform and marketing channel.

And, if you’re not creating videos for marketing campaigns, then you will be left behind this decade.

According to Cisco, 82% of internet traffic will be through videos by 2022. And according to TechCrunch, people watch 1 billion hours of YouTube video per day (That’s more than Netflix and Facebook video combined). 

In our digital times, everyone is capable of publishing videos and everyone is publishing videos; all you need is a good camera and an internet connection. This culture-driven ability now belongs to anyone who can create a video and is so captivating that the right group of people choose and prefer to watch videos.

A person who will never read a 100-page book will gladly watch a 10-minute IGTV.

Video is more than just cute babies and funny animals. It’s so powerful that, even mentioning the word “video” in your email subject line can increase the open rates by 19%.

In this article, I’ll unveil all the fundamentals, tactics, and best practices for video marketing.

What is video marketing?

Video marketing is all about creating a video to market and promote your product/service, educate your audience, increase engagement on social media, widen your brand awareness and reach your audience with interactive content. There are some popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat that businesses are using for video marketing. 

Brands are making videos to help customers make better purchasing decisions by understanding and analyzing their favorite products and features in an engaging way.

Share of businesses using video on their landing pages worldwide from 2016 to 2018

Source

According to HubSpot, 72% of consumers prefer to watch a video about a product than a read product description and more than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands more than any other type of content.

A quick question.

Why do videos work so well? 

Because our brain can’t resist the visual outburst, videos are easy to follow-through and we get addicted to them. We remember dialogues from the movies we watched in the past decade but we hardly remember some paragraphs from some book we read a few years back. Movies are just a visual representation of the scriptwriter and storytelling of the director.

Half of the internet users look for a video before visiting a store (Google) and your campaign can’t survive without video in your marketing strategy where 87% of businesses now use video to help market their product and services (WyzOwl).

Using video marketing for business isn’t something brand new but to obtain the best results, implementing a proper video marketing strategy is a must.

Gone are the days when throwing some random video in your strategy worked, it’s now more than 80% of the content on the internet and the field has become highly competitive.

Developing a video marketing strategy that works

According to HubSpot research, customers and consumers prefer low-quality authentic video than high-quality inauthentic video. Simple, mundane videos don’t work all the time in the world of marketing. Today, documenting your different work processes like BTS (behind the scenes), vlogs, live videos, and product walkthroughs seem more real and human than videos created filled with artificial effects.

The versatility of the video content you publish also makes it a successful marketing strategy. Be it the branding of your ecommerce business or tapping into new audiences, videos have always got your back.

93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media, thanks to video. It’s also very important to create a sound strategy when you’re planning to implement video in your marketing which should include:

  • Creating a script based on customer’s pain points
  • Designing a template that reflects your branding
  • Distribution of video on different platforms
  • Feelings or emotions you want to evoke
  • The persona you’re targeting with the video
  • Recording and editing the video
  • Integrating video into different marketing content
  • Coming up with new topics and trends
  • Analyzing the video performance
  • Improving your strategy based on your data

As we have discussed before, that video is accessible to everyone and any type of business, you only need the right strategy to kick-off. Whether you’re executing operations in the service team or the marketing team, the usefulness of video is apparent everywhere.

Let’s dig deep into the types of video you can create for the different marketing campaigns:

Types of marketing videos

You will be having different objectives for your marketing campaign and based on that you’ll choose the type of video you’re going to create. So, here is the list of top marketing video types to choose from:

1. Explainer videos

The primary purpose of explainer videos is to educate your audience whether it’s your product/service or some concept in your industry. They generally are short in length and it shouldn’t be more difficult than curating decks of slides in the presentation. It’s kind of a scripted journey of your customer’s problem and how they can resolve it.

2. How-to videos

How-to videos are the most popular type of video which customers love to consume and revolve around the educational concept to teach your audience in a step-by-step manner. These types of videos are compelling because they literally show you how to do something.

3. Customer testimonial videos

Customer testimonial videos are the best way to showcase social proof and brand advocacy for your brand. You can ask your consumers to tell their story on camera, what challenges they faced, and how your brand helped them overcome those obstacles.

4. Demo videos

In this type of video, you have the ability to brief your product or service to your audience in a systematic way. It can be an unboxing review, walkthrough or run your physical product through some tests.

72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service (WyzOwl).

5. Personalized video messages

Are you out of ideas for your email marketing campaign?

Try creating video messages.

Nothing can be more personalized, charming and captivating than this type of video message. It will not only improve engagement rate but it will also move your prospect down the funnel towards conversion. See how Marketo used personalized video messages to invite their audience to the summit.

6. Live videos

According to Livestream.com, users watch live videos 1.8x times longer than non-live video, representing the present aspect of your brand. It allows your audience to participate, engage, and connect with your brand in the live video.

You can use live video content to stream events, Q&A sessions, presentations, interviews with experts and foster your audience to interact with your brand.

In this Facebook live video, Martha Stewart prepares viewers for holidays with some outdoor decorating ideas and encourages them to buy each product at Home Depot.

7. AR/VR and 360° videos

Everyone in the industry knows that AR/VR is the future and its market has already reached $ 16.8 billion US. These are future tech that will skyrocket your customer’s experience and you should be integrating your products by now.

VR and 360° videos are important videos that let you put your customers into another person’s shoes, for example, Oreo ran this fun campaign which lets you experience the Oreo virtual world. On the other hand, AR allows people to check out products while sitting in their homes. Everyone knows IKEA furniture App did this beautifully by showcasing their furniture and homeware in your specific living rooms.

Customer experience journey through video marketing

Everyone is familiar with the customer journey or the funnel as we say in which a customer goes from showing interest in your products or services to buying them. Videos are not any piece of content that you can introduce to your audience at any time or any platform. I say that no content should be introduced to the customer in the funnel at the wrong time.

Customers can be offered an additional incentive to push them towards buying a certain product. According to the latest coupon statistics, 86% of millennials say that deals and discounts impact their purchase decisions. This makes coupons a perfect weapon of choice for video marketers.

Here’s a brief to every stage of the customer journey and what type of videos you should introduce to your audience at each stage of the funnel:

1. Awareness

This is the initial stage of the customer’s journey where you show them who you are and what you represent.

  • Your prospect has a great product but he is unable to generate revenue.
  • Prospects try to find the solution on Google by typing their issue.
  • He ends up watching YouTube videos and learns that his problem is ‘A’.
  • Again, he searches “how to solve problem A” and one of your customer review videos pops up in the suggestion.
  • He gets intrigued by the comments on your video and checks out your YouTube channel.
  • Finds out that you have uploaded tons of helpful videos and shares them with the team.
  • Every time he visits YouTube, your videos are recommended as suggestions.

“84% of marketers credit video with increasing traffic to their website.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Explainer Videos
  • Commercial
  • How-To Videos
  • Fun Videos

2. Consideration

In the consideration stage, prospects know that they have a problem and want to find the solution. They try everything to find the solution, ask a friend, compare alternatives, search on Google and want a cost-effective solution to the problem.

  • They know the problem and watch one of your videos on YouTube but it is just a teaser. They click on the given link to watch the full video on your website.
  • They watch one video after the other because of the pop-ups.
  • In between, an email submission form comes up and they fill it. Congratulations, you’ve captured a lead. It triggers an email via your automation platform.
  • Just a few days later, they receive an email with a relevant video.
  • After checking their watch history, the sales rep sends them a personalized video that is shockingly relevant. They end up booking a meeting.
  • This kind of customer care strengthens the relationship.

“80% of marketers credit video with increasing the average time on page for their website.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Testimonials and Video Case Studies
  • Detailed Product Demos
  • Personalized Video Voicemails
  • Setup Webinars

3. Decision

In the decision stage, customers are quite close to making a decision to buy your product or service and it’s your job to create crystal clear smooth processes for the transaction. They should feel like they have control over the complete process and know every detail.

  • Team of prospect lists out all the alternatives including your brand, then they schedule a demo but only your brand sends them a video which makes it easier to understand the product.
  • Prospect sends you an email with a few concerns and you reply to them with a video walkthrough.
  • During their research, they search for a solution to problem X and they find your YouTube video, which makes you the top vendor.
  • After a few days, with a deal on the table, they receive a personal video from a senior executive of yours and they buy.
  • Prospect receives a welcome video from the sales rep and an intro to what’s gonna happen next.
  • You redirect the prospect to the on-boarding video library which makes the whole process even smoother.
  • Now, when their team faces any problem, support videos with screen recording resolves every issue in minutes.

“83% of marketers say video results in a good ROI.”

Type of videos to use:

  • FAQ Video
  • Campaign Nurturing Videos
  • Instructional Video

4. Advocacy

If someone buys your product or service, you’ll always get a chance to engage them with your content and updates that help them grow with your product and industry.

  • The customer finds your product very useful and is very pleased with it.
  • They create a short testimonial video and your marketing team uploads it on your YouTube channel.
  • New prospects find that testimonial on Google and visit your YouTube channel. The cycle repeats again.

“86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Troubleshooting Videos
  • Product/Brand Update Videos
  • Interview Videos
  • Social Live Videos

I have shown you how we can integrate videos in each stage of the customer journey. It’s not mandatory to use all of them but it’s recommended to use personalized videos as much as you can. So, design your next customer journey close to perfection with a sound video marketing strategy.

Video analytics

No marketing campaign can be successful without a defined goal and continued experimentation after measuring the data metrics of the campaign. Your goal for running the campaign could be brand awareness, increasing website traffic, or even conversion.

How can you define your goal for the campaign? 

By considering your target audience, buyer personas, media they consume, when they consume it, and which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in.

Video marketing

Having a better understanding of these metrics will help you measure your campaign success and define your goal of the campaign. There are several marketing tools available that make it easy for you to evaluate different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Here are a few important metrics that you need to keep your eye on:

1. Rate of play

This metric helps you grasp insight into how many people are actually watching your videos. The rate of play is the percentage of people who played your video divided by the number of impressions on the video.

Factors that play an important role in improving this metric include your thumbnail, platform you are publishing the video on, the initial few seconds of the video, and many more. If you’re getting tons of impressions but no one is playing your video, then you need to optimize your videos as soon as possible.

2. View count

The total number of view count on your video reflects how many times viewers have watched your video. It’s easy to measure but tricky to derive because different platforms measure view count differently.

Facebook takes 3 seconds and YouTube an entire 30 seconds of playtime to measure one view count. This metric is also known as reach which means if your goal is brand awareness then this metric is great to track.

3. Click-through rate (CTR)

This is an important sign that signifies if your video is extremely good or not because its primary goal is to make viewers take a desired action that leads them to an already-optimized landing page with a clear call-to-action (CTA).

CTR is the number of times your call-to-action (CTA) is clicked divided by the number of times it’s viewed.

4. Social media sharing

It’s way too easy to monitor the social sharing metrics and it’s extremely important to increase your organic reach on the internet. The social sharing metric shows you how many shares you’re getting on social media from your viewers.

A “share” is the active engagement that a viewer takes to share a video with his friend when they really like the content. When one viewer shares the video, then a similar audience on his network is more likely to share and it creates a chain reaction that helps you reach a wider audience organically.

5. Conversion rate

It’s the rate of conversion for your video campaign that tells how many leads, prospects or customers were generated through your videos.

Conversion rate is the number of times visitors completed your desired action divided by the number of clicks on your CTA. However, measuring this metric is kind of difficult but you can surely track it if you work smartly.

6. Completion rate

It’s the most liable metric for videos because it shows how many people have watched your video completely.

The completion rate is the number of people who completed your video divided by the number of people who played it.

If no one is watching your videos completely then your content needs to be optimized. It shows the success rate of your video marketing campaign.

7. Bounce rate

You might be thinking about how this metric is important in measuring video success. Sometimes, it happens that adding a video to the web page improves the session duration.

The bounce rate is defined as the rate of your video played, where the viewer actually watches some part of your video.

So, start off by noting down the bounce rate of the page before you add the video and after adding the video to the page, check if there is any improvement in the bounce rate. And how the audience is interacting with the new video content.

Bonus tips for awesome video content

As I mentioned in the beginning, everyone is capable of producing and publishing content these days and everyone is doing it. So, before concluding this blog, I would like to give you readers a few more tips, techniques, and strategies to give you an edge over other creators.

Video equipment checklist

Video marketing checklist

Source

Here’s the list of resource requirements you need to fulfill in order to start producing the video content:

  1. Camera: A decent quality DSLR camera would be perfect for the job and will cost you around $ 500-$ 600. A high-end camera smartphone like Samsung S10+, Google Pixel 4, or iPhone 11 Pro will also do the trick and will cost you the same.
  2. Tripod: It’s very effective for video stabilization and vlogging purposes as it makes your camera portable to carry. So, spend on tripods which are lighter in weight.
  3. External Mic: This will improve the quality of sound in your video and especially when you’re shooting for online courses and explainer videos. It will cost you around $ 100-200.
  4. Lighting: In the starting, you can use a reflector to take advantage of ambient light. If you want to step up to more powerful lighting, you can use something like a softbox.
  5. Editing Software: You just need a few skills like editing out your vocal pauses and inserting some text. This would be enough to make a good quality video, as the final content matters the most anyway. You can use expert tools like Adobe Premiere Pro in Windows and Final Cut X Pro in Mac.
  6. Editing Hardware: As much as you need the editing software for finishing videos, you also need some graphic power to run that software. Low-graphic power systems make it difficult to alter large size files. It should have minimum requirements – 8GB RAM, 2GB VRAM Graphic Card, Intel 6th Gen or AMD FX.

Make a great video

In this section, we will check everything that makes a video great:

  1. Use a script: Writing a script for your video helps you deliver 2-3x content in a short period of time. You don’t have to write each and every word; the outline structure will do just fine. For reference read: Write a Video Script 
  2. All direction lighting: Using the omnidirectional method gives your object more sharpness and natural feel.
  3. Soundproofing: Shooting in an echoing room will make you sound terrible. Buy soundproofing material or throw some thick yoga mats on the floor.
  4. Color Correction: This can make a huge difference in the output of your raw footage. It is the most undervalued but an important editing part of the video.
  5. Lots of cuts: Cutting is essential to the delivery of your audio and making it clean, and precise. It can help you remove all the noise, avoid filler words, and streamline the content flow.
  6. Animation Effects: If you’re making explainer videos or educational content, then graphics give you a bonus in conveying your message. You can use software like Adobe After Effects and also outsource tasks to some experts in the field.

Few more strategies

Here are a few more advanced strategies that will help you give more views on your videos:

  1. First Impression: Capture your audience’s attention in the first 5-10 seconds by starting your video with a question, compelling story, or telling them what they will learn in the whole video.
  2. Longer Videos: Try uploading videos longer than 5-10 minutes on very different topics and make them detailed and filled with insights. Long-form content works greatly if created well.
  3. Theme Consistency: You should be consistent with your branding in each and every video. Try to create a theme consisting of your brand color, font, voice, and niche topics which will help you increase brand awareness.
  4. Humor: Using humor in your videos will make your content more watchable. I don’t recommend filling it up with jokes unless you’re a comedian. Just using one or two light-hearted funny lines in the script would be perfect.
  5. Sequence: Always ask your audience to watch the next related video on the topic. On YouTube, you can show them in suggestions and make a playlist.

Tools for video analytics

Video marketing tools

We have already learned what metrics we should measure and here’s how we can measure them:

  1. Vimeo: Advanced video analytics to help you learn more and decide better. It delivers quality and focuses on building a huge community.
  2. Wistia: It has a great feature to show you the bounce rate when a person jumps off from your video and a complete brand customization capability for embedded players.
  3. Vidyard: It offers a defined reporting dashboard and has integration with major marketing automation software. It also gives real-time video views data.
  4. Google Analytics: Firstly, it is free to use. Perfect if you’re just starting off. It gives you the ability to build a customized dashboard and can be specifically used to track conversion rates.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide for video marketing and its best practices.

Video marketing may look intimidating at first but it’s the present and future of content and you can always start slow. You’ll be able to produce good quality content with practice and don’t forget to align content with your brand.

Creating and publishing videos to grow your brand is way easier than ever and make sure to be a part of this big bubble. Start by turning your epic blogs into different, small pieces of videos in an interesting way and re-purpose all your insightful text content into videos.

Go out other and amaze your audience with your videos and keep improvising all the time.

Light, Camera, Roll, Action!

Which part of this guide intrigued you the most and what points did I miss out on?

Please have your say. I am listening.

Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder at MakeWebBetter, BotMyWork, and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He can be found on Twitter @himanshurauthan.

The post Video marketing: The ultimate guide (You’ll only need this) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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This Week in Apps: YouTube TV cancels Apple’s rev share, more bad news for mobile voting, WhatsApp hits 2B users

February 16, 2020 No Comments

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $ 120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $ 544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we look at YouTube TV’s decision to stop revenue-sharing with Apple, another mobile voting app with serious flaws, new Apple launches in coding and AR, Microsoft’s game-streaming service Project xCloud arrival on iOS and other notable app news and trends, including WhatsApp’s big 2 billion user milestone, and more.

Headlines

YouTube TV fights back against Apple’s cut of in-app subscription revenue

This week, YouTube emailed customers subscribed to its YouTube TV service by way of Apple’s in-app purchases to let them know that this subscription offering will be discontinued starting on March 13, 2020. Current subscribers will have their subscription canceled automatically on their billing date after March 13, the letter said.

This is a pretty severe way for Google to end its subscription revenue-sharing with Apple, however. Most companies that decide to shut off in-app subscriptions still continue to honor those from existing subscribers — they just stop selling to new customers. In YouTube TV’s case, it’s actually ending its relationship with all its customers on Apple devices with the hope they’ll return and resubscribe. That’s quite a risk, given that YouTube TV is not the only streaming TV service out there, and customers getting their subscription canceled may take this opportunity to shop around. The timing is also poorly thought-out, given that YouTube TV just picked up new subs following Sony’s PlayStation Vue shutdown — and now it’s kicking them out.

The move makes Google the latest company to rebel against Apple’s 30% cut of all in-app payments (which drops to 15% in year two). A growing number of app publishers are refusing to share a cut of their revenue with Apple — even saying that Apple’s decision to charge this fee is anti-competitive. For example, Spotify believes Apple’s fee makes it more difficult to compete with Apple’s built-in music service, and has raised the issue repeatedly to regulators. Netflix also stopped paying the “Apple tax” over a year ago.

Mobile voting app Voatz, used by several states, was filled with security flaws

Above: Voatz, via The NYT

Last week, we looked at how a smartphone app meant to tabulate votes from the caucuses really screwed things up in Iowa. This week, MIT researchers took a look at mobile voting app Voatz, which has been used to tally votes for federal elections in parts of West Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Washington as part of various mobile voting pilot programs. The researchers found the app was riddled with security flaws that would let attackers monitor votes or even change ballots or block them without users’ knowledge. Attackers could also create a tainted paper trail, making a reliable audit impossible — despite Voatz’s promise of using blockchain technology to increase security. One security expert, speaking to VICE, called the app “sloppy” and filled with “elementary” mistakes.

Coming on the heels of the Iowa caucus mobile voting disaster, this latest news delivers another huge blow to the promise of mobile voting in the U.S.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Google Opti Score – Why I Don’t Love This Shorthand & Why It Matters

February 13, 2020 No Comments

6 things you might not know about Google’s optimization score and how digital marketers should treat this metric.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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This ultrasonic gripper could let robots hold things without touching them

January 23, 2020 No Comments

If robots are to help out in places like hospitals and phone repair shops, they’re going to need a light touch. And what’s lighter than not touching at all? Researchers have created a gripper that uses ultrasonics to suspend an object in midair, potentially making it suitable for the most delicate tasks.

It’s done with an array of tiny speakers that emit sound at very carefully controlled frequencies and volumes. These produce a sort of standing pressure wave that can hold an object up or, if the pressure is coming from multiple directions, hold it in place or move it around.

This kind of “acoustic levitation,” as it’s called, is not exactly new — we see it being used as a trick here and there, but so far there have been no obvious practical applications. Marcel Schuck and his team at ETH Zürich, however, show that a portable such device could easily find a place in processes where tiny objects must be very lightly held.

A small electric component, or a tiny oiled gear or bearing for a watch or micro-robot, for instance, would ideally be held without physical contact, since that contact could impart static or dirt to it. So even when robotic grippers are up to the task, they must be kept clean or isolated. Acoustic manipulation, however, would have significantly less possibility of contamination.

Another, more sinister-looking prototype.

The problem is that it isn’t obvious exactly which combination of frequencies and amplitudes are necessary to suspend a given object in the air. So a large part of this work was developing software that can easily be configured to work with a new object, or programmed to move it in a specific way — rotating, flipping or otherwise moving it at the user’s behest.

A working prototype is complete, but Schuck plans to poll various industries to see whether and how such a device could be useful to them. Watchmaking is of course important in Switzerland, and the parts are both small and sensitive to touch. “Toothed gearwheels, for example, are first coated with lubricant, and then the thickness of this lubricant layer is measured. Even the faintest touch could damage the thin film of lubricant,” he points out in the ETHZ news release.

How would a watchmaker use such a robotic arm? How would a designer of microscopic robots, or a biochemist? The potential is clear, but not necessarily obvious. Fortunately, he has a bit of fellowship cash to spend on the question and hopes to spin it off as a startup next year if his early inquiries bear fruit.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


3D TV Tells You Everything About This Decade’s Tech

January 1, 2020 No Comments

You don’t need special glasses to see what it looks like when smart people run out of ideas.
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This robot scientist has conducted 100,000 experiments in a year

November 27, 2019 No Comments

Science is exciting in theory, but it can also be dreadfully dull. Some experiments require hundreds or thousands of repetitions or trials — an excellent opportunity to automate. That’s just what MIT scientists have done, creating a robot that performs a certain experiment, observes the results, and plans a follow-up… and has now done so 100,000 times in the year it’s been operating.

The field of fluid dynamics involves a lot of complex and unpredictable forces, and sometimes the best way to understand them is to repeat things over and over until patterns emerge. (Well, it’s a little more complex than that, but this is neither the time nor the place to delve into the general mysteries of fluid dynamics.)

One of the observations that needs to be performed is of “vortex-induced vibration,” a kind of disturbance that matters a lot to designing ships that travel through water efficiently. It involves close observation of an object moving through water… over, and over, and over.

Turns out it’s also a perfect duty for a robot to take over. But the Intelligent Tow Tank, as they call this robotic experimentation platform, is designed not just to do the mechanical work of dragging something through the water, but to intelligently observe the results, change the setup accordingly to pursue further information, and continue doing that until it has something worth reporting.

“The ITT has already conducted about 100,000 experiments, essentially completing the equivalent of all of a Ph.D. student’s experiments every 2 weeks,” say the researchers in their paper, published today in Science Robotics.

The hard part, of course, was not designing the robot (though that was undoubtedly difficult as well) but the logic that lets it understand, at a surface level so to speak, the currents and flows of the fluid system and conduct follow-up experiments that produce useful results.

Normally a human (probably a grad student) would have to observe every trial — the parameters of which may be essentially random — and decide how to move forward. But this is rote work — not the kind of thing an ambitious researcher would like to spend their time doing.

So it’s a blessing that this robot, and others like it, could soon take over the grunt work while humans focus on high-level concepts and ideas. The paper notes other robots at CMU and elsewhere that have demonstrated how automation of such work could proceed.

“This constitutes a potential paradigm shift in conducting experimental research, where robots, computers, and humans collaborate to accelerate discovery and to search expeditiously and effectively large parametric spaces that are impracticable with the traditional approach,” the team writes.

You can read the paper describing the Intelligent Tow Tank here.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


A Visual Diary of This Year’s WIRED25 Festival

November 15, 2019 No Comments

Dina Litovsky captured the weirdest and the WIRED-est moments from our 2019 event.
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5 Optimization Tips to Maximize Sales This Holiday Season

November 10, 2019 No Comments

As advertisers, we need to take advantage of the upcoming holiday sales predictions and position ourselves for an outrageously successful holiday season. To set yourself up for success, we’ve highlighted 5 tips to maximize your online sales.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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This tactile display lets visually impaired users feel on-screen 3D shapes

November 2, 2019 No Comments

Using a computer and modern software can be a chore to begin with for the visually impaired, but fundamentally visual tasks like 3D design are even harder. This Stanford team is working on a way to display 3D information, like in a CAD or modeling program, using a “2.5D” display made up of pins that can be raised or lowered as sort of tactile pixels. Taxels!

The research project, a collaboration between graduate student Alexa Siu, Joshua Miele and lab head Sean Follmer, is intended to explore avenues by which blind and visually impaired people can accomplish visual tasks without the aid of a sighted helper. It was presented this week at SIGACCESS.

tactile display2The device is essentially a 12×24 array of thin columns with rounded tops that can be individually told to rise anywhere from a fraction of an inch to several inches above the plane, taking the shape of 3D objects quickly enough to amount to real time.

“It opens up the possibility of blind people being, not just consumers of the benefits of fabrication technology, but agents in it, creating our own tools from 3D modeling environments that we would want or need – and having some hope of doing it in a timely manner,” explained Miele, who is himself blind, in a Stanford news release.

Siu calls the device “2.5D,” since of course it can’t show the entire object floating in midair. But it’s an easy way for someone who can’t see the screen to understand the shape it’s displaying. The resolution is limited, sure, but that’s a shortcoming shared by all tactile displays — which it should be noted are extremely rare to begin with and often very expensive.

The field is moving forward, but too slowly for some, like this crew and the parents behind the BecDot, an inexpensive Braille display for kids. And other tactile displays are being pursued as possibilities for interactions in virtual environments.

Getting an intuitive understanding of a 3D object, whether one is designing or just viewing it, usually means rotating and shifting it — something that’s difficult to express in non-visual ways. But a real-time tactile display like this one can change the shape it’s showing quickly and smoothly, allowing more complex shapes, like moving cross-sections, to be expressed as well.

tac

Son Kim, an assistive tech specialist at the Vista Center and collaborator on the project, demonstrates the device.

The device is far from becoming a commercial project, though as you can see in the images (and the video below), it’s very much a working prototype, and a fairly polished one at that. The team plans on reducing the size of the pins, which would of course increase the resolution of the display. Interestingly another grad student in the same lab is working on that very thing, albeit at rather an earlier stage.

The Shape Lab at Stanford is working on a number of projects along these lines — you can keep up with their work at the lab’s website.

Gadgets – TechCrunch